NEW CANAAN, Conn. After dropping a tough 1-0 decision against Staples on Friday, New Canaan High School boys soccer head coach Victor Sanchez said he wanted to see his players start faster. The boys listened as Jon-Luke Ferrandino scored on a penalty kick less than five minutes into the game against Norwalk High, the top-ranked team in the conference.
But it was not enough for New Canaan, as the Bears Nic Zuniga took the next 15 minutes to score a hat trick and singlehandedly sink the Rams hope of clinching a playoff spot Monday night. The Rams rough second half of their season continued with a 4-2 loss.
In a rematch of last years opening round of the conference finals, Norwalk exacted revenge. Last year, New Canaan knocked out the top-seeded Bears in a thrilling penalty-kick overtime victory.
The game started out in the Rams favor after Steven Valente was tripped inside the box. The Rams were awarded with a penalty kick, which Ferrandino easily drilled in for a score.
But it would not be an upset this time, as Zuniga was all over the field. Valente cut Norwalks lead to 3-2 with 14:50 left in the first half, but Zunigas hat trick sucked the life out of the Rams' players. New Canaan could not gather any momentum in the second half, getting just four shots at the goal. Only two of those shots posed any threat.
Kevin Joslyn added the backbreaking insurance goal for the Bears. A bouncing ball briefly eluded keeper Scott Levene, and Joslyn was there to head it in for the score.
We have one last game, and its a must-win for us, Sanchez said. Thats what were focused on. Hopefully, they come out and play with the same energy and intensity they did tonight.
The two halves of the Rams season are polar opposites in their record. New Canaan opened the season with a 6-0-2 mark. Since then, the Rams have gone 1-3-3.
New Canaan finds itself in an almost identical situation to last season, needing a win on the seasons final day to clinch a conference playoff berth. The Rams host Fairfield Ludlowe on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
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